25 July 2013

Review: Last Light by Alex Scarrow

Last Light (Last Light #1) by Alex Scarrow

Published: 25 July 2007 by Orion

Pages: 483 (paperback)

Genre/s: Post-apocalyptic, Thriller

Source: Own library

Synopsis 

It begins on a very normal Monday morning. But in the space of only a few days, the world's oil supplies have been severed and at a horrifying pace things begin to unravel everywhere. This is no natural disaster—someone is behind this. Oil engineer Andy Sutherland is stranded in Iraq with a company of British soldiers, desperate to find a way home, trapped as the very infrastructure of daily life begins to collapse around him. Back in Britain, his wife Jenny is stuck in Manchester, fighting desperately against the rising chaos to get back to their children in London as events begin to spiral out of control—riots, raging fires, looting, rape, and murder. In the space of a week, London is transformed into an anarchic vision of hell. Meanwhile, a mysterious man is tracking Andy's family. He'll silence anyone who can reveal the identities of those behind this global disaster. The people with a stranglehold on the future of civilization have flexed their muscles at other significant tipping points in history, and they are prepared to do anything to keep their secret - and their power - safe.

My Thoughts

When it comes to post-apocalyptic novels, the ones I find I enjoy the most are the ones that are very real scenarios.  Not that zombies or alien invasions aren't realistic scenarios (yep, I had to say that!), but natural disasters or man-made disasters such as the storyline of Last Light are the ones that scare me the most.

I first read Last Light in 2009 or 2010, but I've always wanted to go back and revisit it again, because as well as being entertaining, it's a book that carries a message - the dependency of the human race on oil is huge, and it's complicated.  It's not something I give thought to often, but imagine if the oil supplies were suddenly cut off - would the world band together or would it descend into chaos?

Last Light focuses on one family, the Sutherlands, in the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the worlds' oil extraction and distribution process.  Andy Sutherland is something of an alarmist, but the reasons behind his paranoia are actually justified - he knows just how precarious the world is in it's dependency and has no doubts on just how catastrophic the loss of oil would be.

Last Light is told through multiple perspectives, and this is where it lost me a little.  Whilst the storyline of Andy in Iraq is vital to the story, it wasn't the part that I was particularly invested in - I liked the focus on the collapse of the British economy and infrastructure far more, and particularly the perspectives of Andy's wife, Jenny and daughter Leona as they witnessed the spiralling events first hand.

The characters all feel very real - the Sutherlands are normal, everyday people with normal, everyday problems and perspectives and that makes them incredibly likable and I was also able to sympathise with them as they tried to find each other whilst surviving some scary situations.

There are also mystery elements in Last Light that opens the appeal up to more readers than just the apocalypse lovers, and although it wasn't the type of storyline that I normally enjoy, it was an essential part of the story that I found very intriguing.

What Alex Scarrow does very well in Last Light is paint a picture of how a nation, and a world, could collapse so suddenly into chaos, and there are moments of real tension and terror as humans turn on each other for a bottle of water or a mouldy slice of bread.  It's not always clear how events are going to turn out, and that makes Last Light an incredibly readable and scary book.

3 comments:

  1. Ooh this one sounds great. I love man made disaster type post-apocalyptics too because they are scarier to me. Zombies are scary but something that can actually happen? Yikes!

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  2. I read a book like this once and that Author estimated it would be about a week for chaos to ensue globally. I'll have to check out this one as well. I should probably add to my Goodreads so I don't forget. Thanks for sharing and great review!

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